From VMAN’s Winter 2011/12 issue, VMAN 24 The Decades Issue
THE ACTOR TAKES HIS TALENT FOR BLOODY STAGE BATTLES TO THE BIG SCREEN IN TARSEM SINGH’S IMMORTALS
Text Patrik Sandberg
Photography Matteo Montanari
Daniel Sharman didn’t choose to be an actor. “It was an excuse for me to miss school,” says the 24-year-old stage veteran of trying out drama classes as a youth. At the precocious age of 10, Sharman was selected out of a group of more than sixty finalists, themselves whittled down from hundreds, to join the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company, the eminent Shakespearean theater of England (read: the world).
“I just adored it,” he says of his first foray into the dramatic arts. “Between Macbeth and Henry VI with all of the armor and the blood and everything, it was just fantastic as a kid. It was the best thing ever.” Fittingly, the young star’s first big Hollywood break has come in an equally opulent and violent package. This fall, Sharman will storm theaters as Ares the god of War in Tarsem Singh’s colossal new film, Immortals, depicting the mythic battle of Theseus against the Titans of Olympus.
Making the transition from stage to screen was not an easy task for someone who had graduated from drama school and decided he was probably going to be a theater actor forever.
“I found acting on film really difficult,” he admits of his first performances, in productions for the BBC and ITV in the U.K. “I found it really kind of odd and unnatural. Then I became obsessed with trying to get it right. I’m hugely competitive.”
When tasked with embodying the statuesque proportions of the infamously irate Greek god of carnage for Immortals, that competitive spirit catapulted into overdrive. “When I auditioned for Immortals I had just finished a stage show in London playing a heroin addict. I’d lost a lot of weight and when I arrived in L.A. for a few meetings my managers were like, ‘What the fuck’s happened to you?’”
Naturally, Singh and the producers of the film weren’t easily sold. “Tarsem said, ‘You’re probably too skinny for it but I love what you did with it, let’s come back and do it again.’ For a week I ate protein bars, stuffed my face, went to the gym all seven days, and I even took weights with me to the next audition and pumped up right before I went in. They showed me the tape and it’s a remarkable change. It’s amazing what seven hundred protein bars can do in a week, I’ll tell you that.”
As we speak, posters of Daniel Sharman with a gigantic Mohawk helmet, designed by Oscar-winning costumer Eiko Ishioka, litter every major city.
“It’s odd, having your face up on these huge billboards is a very strange feeling. I anticipated that I would be doing stage acting, in the north of England, with rain smashing down on the streets for most of the day, doing mostly Shakespeare for the rest of my life. So to go from that to being on a big billboard on Sunset Boulevard is very, very amazing.”
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